The Oscar nominations have been announced and all the critic groups have announced their best of 2014 lists. There has definitely been a bit of a general consensus around a few key films this year, some of which will appear on my list. I am not a film critic so my list includes some of my favourite quotes from some of my favourite critics, describing my top 10 films of 2014. There were several others films that I loved but I just couldn’t squeeze into my top 10 list, including The Grand Budapest Hotel, Birdman, Ida, and Nightcrawler.
Here are my top 10 films of 2014:
Director: Richard Linklater
Ann Hornaday, writing for The Washington Post:
What makes Linklater great is that he possesses the modesty and confidence to simply observe banal, otherwise forgettable non-events, then invest them with scale and sweep and deep significance. As a film that dares to honor small moments and the life they add up to, “Boyhood” isn’t just a masterpiece. It’s a miracle.
2. Under the Skin
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Matt Zoller Seitz, writing for rogerebert.com:
Movies like this don’t find their way into commercial cinemas very often. When they do, they don’t tend to star anyone you’ve heard of. When a film comes along that doesn’t fit the usual marketplace paradigms, such as “The Tree of Life” or “Upstream Color” or “Spring Breakers,” you take notice. “Under the Skin” is a film in that vein.
Is it perfect? Probably not. It might be too much of something, or too little of something else. Time will sort out the particulars. But I do know that the movie’s sensibility is as distinctive as any I’ve seen. “Under the Skin” is hideously beautiful. Its life force is overwhelming.
Director: Xavier Dolan
Peter Howell, writing for The Toronto Star:
Xavier Dolan’s Mommy is defiantly a movie for the here and now, something so immediate, its very form resembles Instagram photos or smartphone videos.This fifth (and best) feature by the 25-year-old Quebec auteur demonstrates a mastery of the lens that would be remarkable at any age. Dolan and cinematographer André Turpin place each volatile image within a square 1:1 format, making the energy within it all the more intense.
Director: Damien Chazelle
Michael Phillips, writing for The Chicago Tribune:
“Whiplash” is true to its title. It throws you around with impunity, yet Chazelle exerts tight, exacting control over his increasingly feverish and often weirdly comic melodrama. (At times the intensity rivals Darren Aronofsky’s ballet nightmare, “Black Swan.”
5. Gone Girl
Director: David Fincher
Justin Chang, writing for Variety:
Surgically precise, grimly funny and entirely mesmerizing over the course of its swift 149-minute running time, this taut yet expansive psychological thriller represents an exceptional pairing of filmmaker and material, fully expressing Fincher’s cynicism about the information age and his abiding fascination with the terror and violence lurking beneath the surfaces of contemporary American life.
Director: Ava Duvernay
A.O. Scott, writing for The New York Times:
Ms. DuVernay, in her third feature (after “I Will Follow” and “Middle of Nowhere”), writes history with passionate clarity and blazing conviction. (The cinematographer, Bradford Young, captures its shadows and its glow.) Even if you think you know what’s coming, “Selma” hums with suspense and surprise. Packed with incident and overflowing with fascinating characters, it is a triumph of efficient, emphatic cinematic storytelling.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Kenneth Turan, writing for LA Times:
But though it’s a big studio blockbuster with all the traditional plot elements the term implies, “Interstellar” turns out to be the rarest beast in the Hollywood jungle. It’s a mass audience picture that’s intelligent as well as epic, with a sophisticated script that’s as interested in emotional moments as immersive visuals. Which is saying a lot.
8. Blue Ruin
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Andrew O’Heheir, writing for Salon:
It’s a brilliant, slow-burning American revenge thriller that hardly puts a foot wrong, a work of startling violence and profound conscience that announces the arrival of an exciting young director.
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Patrick Gamble, writing for CineVue:
Seamlessly entwining the dramatic tensions and linear narratives of western cinema with the stylised violence and absurdity of its Asian counterparts, Snowpiercer is a genuinely global film – a rich hybrid of styles that breaks through cultural and political boundaries. The performances are equally as diverse. While Swinton’s Thatcher-esque fundamentalist steals the limelight, but the entire cast from Jamie Bell and Evans to Kang-ho and Ko Ah-sung all bring something fresh to the fore. And yet, it’s the depiction of class warfare and the rise of the proletariat that makes Bong’s triumph more that just a runaway actioner. The intelligent scrutiny of neoliberal ideals makes for a wonderfully reflective, spectacular think piece on social irresponsibility and individualism.
Director: Laura Poitras
Matt Patches, writing for HitFix:
That’s the paranoid exhilaration of “CITZENFOUR,” Laura Poitras’ inside look into the 2013 global surveillance disclosures and the man who blew the NSA whistle: Edward Snowden. Actually, “inside” doesn’t do the film justice; Poitras isn’t picking the brains of experts and beginning her investigation after the fact. As Snowden and Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald sift through a cache of confidential documents to decide where to strike first, Poitros is there rolling camera, rubbing shoulders with a man whose media profile would explode only a week after their first face-to-face meeting. A reminder of the NSA’s infractions, an indictment of American bullying tactics and a powerful character study of the down-to-Earth Snowden, “CITIZENFOUR” is an expertly crafted expose with unprecedented urgency.